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Translation of President Yameen’s Republic Day speech

A translation of President Abdulla Yameen’s speech on the occasion of Republic Day



“Beloved and honourable citizens of Maldives,

I sincerely congratulate all beloved Maldivian citizens on the occasion of Republic Day.

History testifies to the fact that, our republic has taught us many lessons as it reaches 47 years, approaching 50 years. The best lesson given to us from our 47 year old Republic is the fact that we have a modern democratic system in Maldives. This is a time when all three powers of the state have been separated and a system whereby one power oversees the other has been established, a time when all of us are working towards perfecting this system; something we all receive pleasure from.

However, it must be noted that the days of the Republic that we are witnessing now is very active and constructive, and sometimes rather destructive. In short, we were taught that, this president did not assume presidency, take the oath and assume the responsibilities of the presidency on November 11. In short, this example shows you how active our Republic is.

While I sincerely convey the best wishes on the occasion of the Republic Day, I would like to say that it is a day that our country is proud of. The country takes pride in its great people. The country takes pride in the fact that while the Republic Day is being celebrated by the efforts of the people, it remembers the sincere work done by the people for its development. A Republic Day, we celebrate a Republic Day because this country continues to be a Republic by the grace of Allah, thanks to God for that. Moreover, [this is a day] we remember the valuable services and work of individuals in various areas in bringing Maldives to this point of its development.

The most special item of tonight’s agenda is the recognition of the services rendered by individuals who have worked to bring happiness and development, as mentioned before and to recognize the individuals who brought good name to the Maldives, by awarding them with honors, medals and certificates. Without doubt, the Republic’s work is completed by the endurance and will of our people. Therefore, the best thing on the occasion of the Republic Day would be to celebrate such individuals by recognizing their work, and to send them with deserving congrats and thanks.

It gives us pleasure to witness certificates and honors being awarded on this stage tonight, to individuals who have done exemplary, honourable service, or brought a good name for the Maldives, in the field of higher studies, in universities abroad, in sports and volunteering, youth activities, women’s affairs. This is the beautiful and constructive side of the Maldivian Republic.

With this, we must contemplate and assess whether the Republic has a dark side, a side that is not constructive. Without doubt, it is my legal duty to speak truthfully to the people of the Maldives when I am at this post. Even today, we are hearing calls for the boycott of our industries. Even today, we are hearing about attempts to adversely affect our economy. Even today, we are hearing the narrative of how Maldives is a dangerous place for our visitors and tourists. All these stories crop up on the level of the Maldivian people and these stories have crossed our seas and made it to the headlines of the newspapers of our neighbouring countries. Why are we seeking this curse? We must question ourselves. This is the destructive, odd and undesirable side of the Maldivian Republic.

The Maldivian reality we must believe today is that, Maldivians, even though in small numbers, are involved in subjecting the country to all sorts of dangers. Up till a very few days ago, we saw that arms have been hidden in different parts of the country. Arms have been discovered by ocean dives, by searching houses in Male’, and explosives and bomb making equipment have been found in searches of houses in Malé. Without doubt, this is the destructive, odd side. However, with all of this, the Maldivian state will do what is necessary to ensure the safety of the Maldivian people. This is not something that is being voiced because an individual’s or a group’s rights have been violated, but because it is an obligation which rests on the shoulders of any individual at the helm of the nation’s presidency.

This is why a state of emergency was declared. This is not something I chose easily. This was a hard decision to make. I would like to tell you why it is not easy, why it was a hard decision. This is the toughest decision I had to take in recent Maldivian history. This is of course, the most difficult decision I had to make. The toughest of all decisions. However, the constitution guarantees every Maldivian citizen the right to life. The state must ensure the right to life for its citizens. In the same manner, bringing the state of emergency to an end was not easy either. Bringing an end to the state of emergency is something that was done with much difficulty. However, [I] chose the nation’s interest. The declaration of the state of emergency and its abolition was done in the nation’s interest. We all believe the fact that there is no individual or organisation that is better, more powerful and important than the nation.

Therefore, the difficult path had to be chosen for the pride and sacredness of the nation, as ensuring the lives and security of the country and its people was important. With all this, what we saw is that some Maldivian people spoke against it. The declaration of a state of emergency would not have narrowed the rights of any individual or organisation who is peace loving, who works for the country’s development, even by a bit. A curfew was not imposed here. No such rights were restricted here. Everyone spent his or her time in a state of normalcy.

When such actions were taken on behalf of the Maldivian state, a few Maldivians have invited foreign parties. By inviting the foreign parties, they claimed that there was no reasonable justification for the declaration of a state of emergency. This is not something that is easy to accept or listen to. The security of the Maldivian people as a whole was not what they deemed important, neither did they find it important to ensure that the right to life is protected. What they found important was the fact that a particular group’s right to assembly at a particular place was restricted. Saving lives and getting rid of the impending dangers was not something [such people] found to be difficult. I am shocked by reports published on newspapers of some of our neighbouring countries. These countries are viewed by us as well wishers. Why was (I) obliged to declare a state of emergency in Maldives? They did not ask such a question! Why is Maldives in such a sensitive state, are there real threats? They did not question! Questions only arise when the rights of a small group of people is restricted. That is what was questioned! A republic is governance that emerges from the people and of the people. I believe the Maldivian people must think about this.

With the declaration of a state of emergency the parties who called for tourism boycott certainly were again saying things that shocked us. A leading individual of this [campaign] went on TV yesterday in an interview and talked about how the state of emergency would cause damage and potential destruction of the tourism industry, how much damage it will cause the resort operators, how it will adversely affect the industry. But under normal conditions, the political organisations these individuals belong to, call for tourism boycotts. Despite this, when talking on TV I heard how these people are worried, how they were worried about how much disturbance the tourism industry will experience because of the state of emergency. I think the psyche or mentality of these organisations is surely bipolar. We do not see them say the same thing twice. If Maldivian organisations work in such a manner, no doubts should creep in over the fact that there will be hurdles to development for Maldives.

The steps were taken by the Maldivian state as the state believes that it must ensure national interest and security while guaranteeing the citizens right to life. In the same note, I would like to say in the efforts to bring national interests first, we will remain unwavering and steadfast with the grace of Allah, in situations such as the declaration and abolition of the state of emergency and all other challenges faced. People elected our government to bring development, to broaden our economic capacity, to make the Maldivian state rich and wealthy. If we are living in poverty, even though our nation is sovereign, we will not be able to raise our voices.

Therefore, our aim was to make the Maldivian state wealthy and with it the pockets of all workers of the state. This is not something any citizen should be worried, or sad about. No citizen is against calculating the gross national product per head. This is work done to excel Maldivian economically, to reach new heights in social aspects and in the fields of health and education. As the Republic Day illustrates the established will, development or the direction the government is headed, I have some more to share with you.

The work of the government is by Allah’s grace, a task we will remain steadfastly at. We wish all the happiness for Maldives. We wish for the Maldivian state to become wealthy, the citizens of the country to be productive and industrious as to contribute to the wealth of the state. We wish that the work of women enable them to stand up on their own feet, and to resolve issues they face. The young generation we would like to build is one that has been brought up well, one that bears responsibility, participates and contributes to a conscientious society. We have decided that volunteerism is something our youth must engage in. These things we have decreed on our youth and women are features that must be present in society. Without such actions, our society will not be one that is compassionate and caring. When ensuring that a society is compassionate and caring, the citizens of that society must also be wealthy.

The work we are doing is to spread economic development to all parts of Maldives. Our determination will not falter. I will tell you some of the things we have done in this manner. This is not at all a presentation of my government’s report as it approaches completion of two years. But as we are celebrating Republic Day, and as Republics come from the people, I believe it is the right of the people to know how the government they elected is functioning.

I will tell you where mega projects stand now. We patiently await the completion of the bridge between Malé and Hulhumalé. The bridge project. In the following two to three days, we are assured that the project will be awarded to the contractor who will do the actual physical work, and by the grace and will of Allah construction work will begin this December. By the end of 2018 every Maldivian will have the pleasure of travelling on this bridge.

Our economy is mainly based on the tourism sector. The biggest hurdle in developing tourism is the burdens we bear because of our current airport. The government’s aim is to build a completely new airport and to increase the current number of passengers by six fold. By the grace of God, all drawings, feasibility reports and financing work for the project has now been completed. By the will of God, before 2018 we, the Maldivian people will experience the ease of this airport.

The second phase of Hulhumalé, is the Maldivian youth’s Youth City. This is the biggest project which illustrates the government’s thoughts on solving the housing and employment scarcities faced by Maldives’ youth. Large boulders are now being set to protect the shoreline, in this project. Work is underway to pave the main roads of the second phase. By the will of God, shoreline protection work will be completed within 2016 and we will see the big roads we wish for and at that point, we will launch the development of the second phase to fulfill the dreams of the Maldivian youth, by allocating land and starting construction. Even now, you would be aware through news and media that housing schemes are underway in Hulhumalé.

I will very briefly highlight the work that we are doing in the atolls in some areas. This is not at all the work being done in all the areas. If we look at the works that need to be done in different areas of Maldives, construction of harbors… 16 harbors have been completed and work is underway for 45 more, even right now. If we look at harbor maintenance and repair, 23 harbors have been repaired. If we look at land reclamation, 5 islands have had reclamation projects, and land mass increasing projects are underway in 9 islands. If we look at road construction, road construction has been completed in 3 islands and work is underway in 20 islands. Also, by the will of God, before the end of this year or at the beginning of next year road construction works of the massive road in Laamu atoll will be completed.

If we look at water and sewerage services, I have so far mentioned the basic services. If we look at water projects, water systems have been established in 9 islands and work is underway in 5. If we look at sewerage systems, projects have been completed in 15 islands and work is underway in 10 islands.

If we look at the education sector, if we look at education infrastructure across Maldives, 48 new buildings have been completed. If we look at the health sector 169 projects have been completed in all parts of the country. If we look at pharmacies, as I said last year, by the grace of God, next year, which is this year… When the presidential address to the parliament is heard, a pharmacy will be established and operating in all inhabited islands. Even tonight I would like to announce that the government has opened a pharmacy on every inhabited island with a total of 185 pharmacies.

I will not go into detail of the work done for the development of IGMH. But, by the grace of God, when we complete development works in the next two years, IGMH will become a place where the Maldivian people will receive much better services. Tomorrow or the day after, a MRI machine will be installed and commissioned.

Tourism sector, the tourism sector is undoubtedly the highest earning industry for Maldives. However, I must say with regret today that some aspects of the industry have become controversial. If we look at the tourism industry, in the last two years, around 60 properties have been leased for development including islands and lagoons. We believe that these 60 properties will be operational in two years, or that resorts will start operating on them. If these 60 properties are developed, the capital expenditure spent would be at around 200 million US dollars, 2 billion US dollars. What benefit will the state gain from this? I will tell you the profit that the government alone will receive. If we look at the revenue the government alone will receive, the completion of these 60 properties will yield 3.3 billion and add to the state treasury through various taxes, rent, TGST, Green Tax and BTT. In terms of what we earn today, it is an increment of around 30 over 100 percent. If we look at the employment opportunities created by the 60 properties alone, we are talking about 27,000 jobs.

The speed of the work done by the state should increase! We will face dangers now and in the future, but we must move forward! The Maldivian nation must strive forward!

As I address the Maldivian people on the Republic Day, I would like to make note of serendipity. We, all Maldivians born to a Maldivian mother and father are Maldivians. The islands we live in is called Maldives, our nation. This reality can never be changed. We have to believe that we owe certain rights to our country. Our country must be given all the love of the Maldivian people, our country’s right! The country also has its rights just as individual rights are guaranteed through the constitution. We realize the misfortune of it all, when we lose all those rights. The delivery of this country as a Muslim and independent nation to the next generation is the country’s right, this is the country’s right. No one, whether it is an individual or a particular organization, powerful or wealthy, cannot steal this right from the country, this is the country’s right. As Maldivians we must believe decide that this is our destiny. We must all regard respecting this right of the country, as a pleasure and a responsibility, the right to let it remain a Muslim state. We must decide that the times of the Chola empire’s rule on Maldives is a distant memory that must be forgotten. Our country must remain an independent Maldivian state. That is the right of the state, or the right of the nation!

We must be a nation that strives to move forward. What we must question today is whether the priority should be the benefit of specific individuals or whether we should stand in solidarity in the realization of the rights of the country, as we are proud Maldivians. We must ask this question today. We must ask this question today because it is a momentous occasion to do so.

When I conclude addressing the beloved people of the Maldives on the occasion of the Republic Day, a question comes to me. The question we must ask or the question that I ask you is… the attendees of this celebration are most honorable individuals of the Maldivian state. Each and every one of you is more powerful than me – you have the right to vote to bring me to power and the right to elect the next president. In short, in your hands lie the power and the authority to shape the future of Maldives. Therefore, you are powerful individuals. In this hall there are mothers, mothers that bring up children. In this hall there are teachers, they are powerful individuals. The individuals who shape the young minds of our children are the mothers, fathers and teachers. In this hall, there are individuals engaged in youth activities, individuals who can act as role models. In this hall, there are military personnel who are obliged to defend Maldives. In short, this is a powerful hall. The vibe given by this hall, I believe is a powerful vibe across Maldives.

I would like to ask of you all… As this hall has the power and authority to shape our future, to change the course of our future, the same power resting on the shoulders of the Maldivian people, I ask if… Republics are of the people, for the people, from the people, a system where the people elect their leader to lead the way as the people please. We have spent 47 years as a Republic. We cannot say that we are not mature enough for a Republic, given the past, there are no grounds for such excuses. I mentioned the lessons taught by the Maldivian Republic at the beginning of my address.

Therefore we have no excuse for any of these things. In a short while, we will see on stage, Maldivians who went for higher studies, Maldivian students, being recognized for their effort in bringing good name to the nation by competing with foreign students. We will see individuals who have contributed to the language, to youth and women’s activities – the prides of Maldives. If we think clearly, these represent our potential and power to shape our affairs constructively.

Therefore, the question I leave to this powerful hall is, as we celebrate the Republic Day, do we have the capacity to make our own decisions as individuals who have the power to change the nations leadership if they wished to do so?

The second question is, do Maldivians have the right to decide on our own affairs? You tell me, yes yes, we must have these rights! Say yes! I conclude my talk.”